Doncaster Knights will be hoping to finally book their place in the quarter-finals of the inaugural Championship Cup when they tackle Nottingham in their final Pool 1 game at Castle Park on Saturday (2pm).
Knights made a flying start to the competition with victories in both opening games and fancied their chances of topping the pool but since then they have lost three on the bounce and could miss out on the knockout stages if the Green & Whites avenge their defeat at Lady Bay.
Victory by more than seven points would see Nottingham, currently the highest-placed club in the championship in the group, pip Knights for third spot provided they also picked up a try bonus point. The two sides could also finish level on points in which case tries scored during the campaign would come into play, or failing that, points difference.
“It’s a game that we can win but, as I said after the defeat at Coventry on Saturday, we’ll have to play for the full 80 minutes,” said director of rugby Clive Griffiths. “That’s something I’ve spoken about to the players in training this week.”
The visitors have tended to rest a number of players in their previous away games in the competition, but the Welshman expects them to be at strength in the return.
“They are still in with a chance of qualifying despite making a poor start to the competition, and it is also their last game before the resumption of the league campaign, so I would imagine that they will bring a strong side,” he said.
“We will pick the strongest side we can turn out because we both want to make the last-eight of the cup and we also don’t want to go into the league game against Yorkshire Carnegie on the 29th on the back of four successive defeats.
“Unfortunately, we’ll be lacking a number of players and we won’t be risking either Ollie Stedman, who suffered an eye injury at Coventry, and fly-half Kurt Morath, injured in the warm-up. Hopefully, they’ll both be okay for the Carnegie game.
“New signing Mike Mayhew will again be missing as will and both Tom Hicks, who has still not been cleared to resume following his head injury earlier in the season, and Nick Civetta are still out although Nick should be back at the start of the New Year which is a bit earlier than expected.
“Better news is that prop Robin Hislop has passed his head injury assessment (HIA) and he’ll be available.
Paul Jarvis, Tyson Lewis, Curtis Wilson and Lloyd Hayes are all expected to come into contention.